This month’s spotlight GGBA member business is Torres Wine Tours, which specializes in creating safe, fun, and memorable wine tasting tours in Sonoma, Napa, and beyond. It is LGBT owned and operated. Owner Juan Torres shares more for this issue of the San Francisco Bay Times.
GGBA: Please describe your business and its mission and values.
Juan Torres: Torres Wine Tours is an all-inclusive luxury wine tour excursion. Our concierge level service takes all the guess work out of planning and executing an amazing day of wine tasting for our guests to either Napa or Sonoma Wine Country. We handle/book the transportation, the tasting appointments, and the lunch, and we also have a concierge/tour guide on board to keep your group on time to your next tasting appointment, making sure that lunch is set up for you at one of the wineries, and to help coordinate all aspects of your day’s itinerary. You pay one price that includes all transportation, wine tasting fees, and lunch. The on-board concierge is there to ensure all goes as planned, and allows all guests to enjoy the day, the wine, and time with each other.
GGBA: Why did you decide to create your business?
Juan Torres: I did so after booking several limousines and planning wine tasting trips for friends and my own birthday or friends’ outings, being dissatisfied with the limousine age, music/Bluetooth or cable options. I started shopping around, looking for nicer limousines and not prom/clubbing vehicles. And I looked for services that do all the prep work of booking tasting appointments for large groups, which often result in higher tasting fees than published/website rates. I also noticed that guests were not getting to enjoy their day to the fullest because someone has to be in charge of keeping the group on time to the next winery and tasting appointment, making sure they head back to San Francisco accounting for traffic, so they don’t incur overtime charges on the limousine rental.
I tried finding a limousine provider who took care of all of these things, but to no avail. So, the idea of a wine tour coordinator/concierge was born. I started making appointments with several Bay Area transportation providers to go look at their fleet of vehicles to make sure the vehicles we rent were up to the standards of our guests. I then pre-scouted wineries to know their types of wines and price points, and to find out what group tasting experiences were available for groups. After this and other planning, I created a wine tour business that offers an all-inclusive wine tour experience that leaves nothing to chance. You pay one fee, and we take care of the planning and execution of your group’s day.
GGBA: Why did you decide to join the GGBA?
Juan Torres: I joined the GGBA because I had been a longtime member in my former career as an insurance broker and had found a lot of value and success in all my networking and contacts I had met at GGBA functions and through advertising in the Pride Pages. So naturally, when I started my own small business, I knew the GGBA would help me to grow my business and to make contacts to help me with referrals for possible new wine tour clients.
GGBA: How long have you been a member of the GGBA?
Juan Torres: I first became a GGBA Member in 2009, and then in 2012 for my own business.
GGBA: Why has being a long-term member of the GGBA been important for your business?
Juan Torres: The contacts and friends whom I’ve met over the years being a GGBA member have been very helpful in growing my business, often booking me for their own friends’ and clients’ wine tours. And then they’ve always become great referral sources as they are speaking from their own experience.
GGBA: How else has the GGBA helped your business so far?
Juan Torres: The member listing on the GGBA business directory has helped us to move higher on Google searches for gay friendly wine tours. The advertisements in the Pride Pages have also generated quotes, leading to booked tours with us.
GGBA: What brings you back to the monthly GGBA Make Contacts?
Juan Torres: Over the years, I have learned that coming to Make Contacts puts a face to my business listing, and allows me to network and share what my business offers to other GGBA members who can then send me better business referrals. The more Make Contacts you attend, the more other GGBA members get to know you and consider you to be a reliable referral source. This further instills more confidence in them booking your services or recommending you to their contacts.
GGBA: Why might someone want to visit a GGBA Make Contact?
Juan Torres: A great membership perk of being a GGBA Member is being able to meet, socialize, and network with other like-minded LGBTQ business owners, allies, and professionals. This gives your business a face. I’ve often found members who offer services to help me with my business needs—from custom logo merch, advertising, and insurance to legal or tax advice and services. If you do business with a fellow GGBA member, they almost always remember you when they meet somebody who could use your service and are more than glad to do a warm introduction for you.
GGBA: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
Juan Torres: Come to a GGBA Make Contact and speak to our members and get advice. Learn who within GGBA has a similar business, or better yet, who offers services that can help you to set up and start your own business. Who better to talk to about starting your own business than a fellow small business owner?
GGBA: Is there anything else that you would like to share?
Juan Torres: As a small business owner, being a GGBA member allows you to be part of a great group of people who want to help you to grow your business and want to see you succeed! The GGBA offers many great educational tools to learn how to run, operate, and grow your small business. Your membership fee is really an investment in your business, and the GGBA is as strong as its membership base. You have a great support system you can tap when you need it. You develop a team of word-of-mouth advertisers with your fellow GGBA members!
For more information about Torres Wine Tours, contact Juan Torres at 415-562-5556 or visit https://www.facebook.com/TorresWineTours/